christmas lights

Festival of Lights – East Peoria, IL

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Festival of Lights – East Peoria, IL

The holiday season around the Midwest is always a magical time, and one of the most loved kick-off events to get you in the spirit of the season is the Festival of Lights in East Peoria, Illinois.

Festival of Lights is really only a title for the entire event, which begins with the Parade of Lights that kicks off the weekend before Thanksgiving. The lighted floats are moved in a parade from their off-season resting place to the Winter Wonderland, where the floats are on display until the weekend of New Years.

A 34-year history this year – 2018, makes the Festival of Lights one of the longest-running and most successful holiday attractions in the Midwest.

Please visit the Festival of Lights webpage for additional details, including suggested visit times, fees, and routes. HERE is a link to the Festival of Lights page.

I visited the Festival of Lights recently to photograph some of my favorite floats. Below are some of the best and a good sample of this wonderful display of holiday cheer. This is only a small sample of what the Winter Wonderland has to offer – there are hundreds of floats, so make sure to plan your visit to see it all.


christmas lights

drummer boy float

minion float

santa claus lights


  • Definitely plan your visit – the Festival gets very busy during weekends. If you at all can plan a visit during the week (Sunday night through Thursday night), those are the best days.
  • Come very early when gates open or later as gates are preparing to close. This may allow you to go a little slower in the park to really enjoy the lights. Once the park is congested, you will have other viewers very close by and some may not be as polite as they should be.
  • Fees are based on Per Vehicle, so load up and make it worthwhile
  • Taking photos is tough because of traffic – be respectful or people will be angry with you for holding up traffic. Phone cameras may or may not capture low light pictures well. Put your phones down and enjoy the view.
  • Make sure to read the Festival of Lights Brochure HERE. There are a variety of activities during the festival period.

So, there you have it folks, the Festival of Lights in East Peoria, Illinois.

Make sure to plan your trip and support this effort to keep the holiday spirit alive. Just make sure to visit the website before your trip and follow some of my tips above. Also, don’t be too shocked if you arrive and find a long line – The Festival of Lights is very popular.

Happy Holidays and thanks for stopping by.

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  1. Dubuque IA has drive through lights too but luckily we visited on a day when no one else was there so I was able to stop and take lots of pictures! I do sometimes forget to just sit back and be in the moment but I love having the visual memories too!

    1. Yes – me as well. I try to go a couple times so I can avoid traffic and get some good photos. Sometimes very challenging. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by.

    1. Thank you. The Festival is one of my favorite things to do for an extra charge of holiday spirit. It really is very neat and great for all ages. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. WHAT!!?!?!? This looks insane! My husband has been asking to visit Peoria so I’m betting we have an impromptu trip next week down to see the lights – that whale and dinos are nuts! I absolutely want to see this!

    1. You must then. It is a great visit – if you can go during the week though it is best. Weekends are pretty terrible for traffic. Thanks for stopping by and for the comments 🙏🏻 Let me know if you do go – love to know your thoughts

    1. For sure – this is a kids dream. Mine too really ☺️. Yes, this particular festival has been running for over 30 years and gets bigger every year. Worth a visit sometime. Thanks for stopping by 🙏🏻

    1. Where are you located? This one is pretty large for Central Illinois – has several other events during the festival month. Worth the trip if you’re not too far. Thanks for stopping by.

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